How to Select the Right HVAC Program near Flowing Wells Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Flowing Wells AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Flowing Wells AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Flowing Wells AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Flowing Wells AZ, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Flowing Wells AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Flowing Wells and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Flowing Wells AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Flowing Wells AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Flowing Wells AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Flowing Wells AZ.